The Google Zoo: The Penguin and Panda from an SEO newbies point of view

Jul. 30, 2012 | by dane.kaagman

Has search engine giant Google decided to expand into Zoology? You would be excused in thinking this was the case if you have read any recent industry news, with the mentions of Pandas and Penguins – what animal will be next to join the pack?

In the UK, when referring to search engines, we predominantly talk about Google as they own the UK market share. Today, knowing the characteristics of what makes a website rank well in Google is only the tip of the iceberg, Google is very active on releasing updates which can change the very shape of search.  The latest algorithm updates have been aimed towards content and link equity; these releases have been named ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’.  The naming of these updates is slightly different to their other updates which have taken their names from famous rock stars and drinks (Jagger, Bourbon, Brandy and Caffeine).

The ‘Panda’ was the first resident at the Google Zoo. This update rolled out to the world at the beginning of 2011 and was aimed at improving the quality of search results by targeting and penalising sites that took part in link farms. The update by Google has been quoted as;

…This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web’  

If website owners who had been affected by the Panda penalty edited their content and met  the new Google guidelines they would be provided with a chance to be re-indexed and  regain any lost rankings.

Penguin focuses on eliminating Black Hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing, cloaking and the deliberate creation of duplicate content.


Google Panda

Lessons to be learnt from these updates in particular are:

  • Link Profile: Understand who is linking to your website and determine which links you think are genuine compared to those which might actually be harmful and do more harm than good.
  • Removal of Bad Links: Once you have highlighted any links that may be harming your rankings and are not providing any value, get in contact with the webmasters to have them removed. These will probably be links from malware and spammy sites.
  • Change Anchor Text: If the anchor text on your website is stuffed with exact match keywords, go through your website and start changing them to different phrases that are being targeted.

These updates are a clear indication that the Search giant is constantly keeping up to date with SEO practices; the Penguin update shows that Google is taking spam and black hat SEO tactics seriously. A clear indicator that good SEO practice will result in better long term success and show more relevant search results.

The constant Google updates show us that SEO has become more of a team sport; taking into consideration all aspects of the online experience. SEO’s have to work closely with marketing, PR, social media, design and creative content departments to help establish great online brand awareness which can be seen here.  Understanding just the technical aspects of SEO and having a few links will no longer be enough, showing that the world of SEO is not the solo sport that it may previously have been thought of. This is a clear indicator that working with other departments helps to achieve great results.

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    Comments (2)

    • dane.kaagman

      Well if good content is King, then relevant links must be Queen. However, each digital strategy will vary from client to the campaign in each industry. In a nutshell, it depends entirely on the exact nature of that client and results that they would like to achieve. This update did affect about 3% of search results it is believed by Google, which was mainly networks and spam.Aug 21, 2012 09:43 am

    • Mark

      Do you think search results have improved since these updates?Aug 18, 2012 09:20 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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